VWSD facilities should match academics

Published 9:00 pm Friday, November 17, 2017

So far, the Vicksburg Warren School District leadership has taken all the right steps as they work to decide what changes need to be made to their facilities.

They hired an architect to do a very detailed study of the current state of facilities throughout the district including looking at population estimates going forward.

Also as part of the process, they held multiple community listening sessions where members of the community were able to come and ask questions of the firm doing the study and voice their opinion about what they would like to see changed and be done.

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When he presented the findings of the study Wednesday, Gary Bailey with Dale/Bailey Architects said one of the biggest takeaways from the study was that VWSD has great programs, but their current facilities aren’t responding.

“It is because you are doing great things,” Bailey said. “If you were a boring district, you could just build a couple classrooms here and there and everybody would be warm and fuzzy. But you are not boring.”

He then offered four options that his team had developed that he said would take VWSD from good to great facility-wise.

The two that were recommended featured either full-scale remodels and expansions of the two high schools or a remodel and expansion of Warren Central and the construction of a new Vicksburg High on land adjacent to WCHS.

Both plans also include remodels and expansions at elementary schools and ways to expand the programs at the Academy of Innovation and Bowmar Elementary, the district’s two magnet schools.

Now comes the hard part. Bailey asked that the members of the Board of Trustees make a decision in December about what option, if any, they would like to pursue.

All of the options are expensive with the two recommended ones costing roughly $132 million.

As superintendent Chad Shealy said, the students in VWSD school district are worth the price tag though. VWSD has been incredibly forward thinking with the implementation of Leader in Me and career academies. It is time the facilities matched these programs and gave the students the chance to fully flourish.

The decision won’t be easy, but thankfully the formula for making it is already in place — ask questions and see what the community wants.